Michigan Maker: Sherry Lin of Rainy Prints

Meet Yu-Hsuan (Sherry) Lin of Rainy Prints. Originally from Taiwan, Sherry recently moved from Lansing to Mount Pleasant. You might remember her artwork from the 2006 Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Take a look at where she finds inspiration and what it takes to be a Michigan Maker.

What’s the name of your business? How long has it been up?
I named my business Rainy Prints because in my Chinese name the “Yu” part means rain. I started my company officially in September 2006.

How did you get started?
After going to school at MSU and LCC for art. I had two choices: it was either to go back home and work with my aunt in her restaurant as a manager, or get married and start a life here. In the end I guess I surrendered to love… hahaha. I wasn’t able to work in the States because it’s illegal for a foreigner to do so. I started selling some of my art work online. After hearing some very kind feedback about my work, I had a huge confidence boost. Then I very naively jumped right in as a full-time artist… artist wannabe.

What are some of the challenges that come with being a DIY business person?
Oooh, there’s tons of challenges. I guess the most important and difficult thing is promotion and how you put your stuff out there. There’s tons of talented people doing what you do, and it can be quite hard at times to get your self noticed. You just can’t give up; sometimes it just happens to you when you least expected. It happens to me all the time!

What do you enjoy most about your business and crafting?
I love being my own boss, ahahaha! You do what ever you want, whenever you want. This sounds very cheesey, but I love it the most when my work puts a smile on people’s face. I feel very lucky that what I do makes me and others feel good.

What’s the one crafting tool you can’t live without?
My linoleum cutters!

If you could eat one kind of cereal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
Hmmm, I know cereal is a big deal in US because you guys have a whole aisle in supermarkets for it and my husband can’t live without it, but they are not that appealing to me. I can only say, I cannot live without rice. Rice is my life.

What do you think about the growing trend toward handmade products?
I cannot believe how many people are doing this these days. I love how you can find almost anything handmade online. Handmade products are getting more popular than ever, and it really gives people more unique and natural things to choose and enjoy.

How do you promote yourself? What’s worked, what hasn’t?
There can never be enough promotion. Even though I am not very computer/Internet oriented, I have joined a couple of web sites where I put my pieces up. I started my business on Etsy and it has always worked for me. I participated in groups, forums, and blogs. Sometimes just by asking some help from others brings you unexpected exposure and promotion. Arts-and-crafts shows are definitely a must. When you set up a booth there, your buyers are more willing to buy when they see the pieces in front of them. You also have chances to meet gallery or gift shop owners that would like to commision your work. Sending out business cards and joining contests are very helpful, too.

What advice would you give to someone who’d like to start her own biz?
When you are clueless, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many friendly, experienced crafters out there who are willing to help and give you pointers. Make sure to be prepared for down season. And the most important thing is don’t give up and enjoy what you do. If you don’t enjoy it in the first place, then there’s really no point.

What music are you listening to?
Etta James

Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
One Piece Pirate captain – Ruphy